I've needed to use a word "to ask" recently, and the word I decided on was [尋]{たず}ねる. But I have strong doubts that this is actually the right word to use in a situation such as this:

I would like to ask you something. (e.g. about my name, about what time it is)

Is there a better word to use than [尋]{たず}ねる for "ask" in this case? I've heard of [質問]{しつもん}する, but in both cases I can't find anything on how to use either of them in an actual sentence.

  • 4
    I think 「聞く」is the most basic way and suits your example. Depending on context you might also want to use 尋ねる・頼む.
    – Aki
    Aug 8, 2014 at 5:23
  • I'd also heard of 聞く, but felt like it was too similar to "to listen" (which is another way of translating the same word in different contexts). Still, thanks for confirming that choice.
    – Joe Z.
    Aug 8, 2014 at 5:34
  • 2
    I just realized that "There's something I want to hear [from you]." and "There's something I want to ask [you]." pretty much imply the same. I never thought about it, but 聞く's different meanings do not seem that different to me now.
    – blutorange
    Aug 8, 2014 at 5:56

1 Answer 1


Without a doubt, the single most natural verb choice among us native speakers is:

[聞]{き}く (sometimes written as 訊く)

・「聞きたいことがあるんだけど、いい?」 = "Can I ask you a question?" More literally, "There is something I want to ask, OK?"

・「ひとつ聞いてもいい?」 = "Can I ask you a question?" (Literally.)

・「[何]{なん}でも[聞]{き}いて。」 = "Ask me anything!"

「尋ねる」, though some J-learners seem to use it as if it were the default verb, is actually too big a word for everyday conversations. They should know that it sounds pretty formal.

「質問(を)する」 is used much more often than 「尋ねる」 by native speakers but we definitely use 「聞く」 more often than 「質問(を)する」 in informal situations.

  • For what it's worth, sometimes I get confused between the "listen" and "ask" meaning of 聞く. Also, how about 問う? Aug 8, 2014 at 6:00
  • 3
    Also for reference, in a business (or other formal) setting, 伺う・お伺い is used often. Note: 伺う also carries a meaning of physically visiting someone in person.
    – user224579
    Aug 8, 2014 at 6:37
  • 2
    @3to5businessdays, For example, when you don't know something and you want somebody to teach / tell you about it, you 聞く someone. On the other hand, you 問う to make something sure or question someone on known things. 聞く and 問う are not replaceable.
    – puhitaku
    Aug 8, 2014 at 10:58
  • Is the を in 質問をする omittable, without changing the meaning of the expression?
    – Toyu_Frey
    Oct 24, 2020 at 3:01

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